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What We Can Learn About Marriage from HGTV's Fixer Upper

What We Can Learn About Marriage from HGTV's Fixer Upper

It’s not every day I witness someone eat a cockroach on a $50 dare. I’m guessing you could say the same.

Yet that’s exactly what Chip Gaines did in one of the very first episodes I ever watched of the popular HGTV show, Fixer Upper. To this day, my seven-year-old still talks about it. Normally she brings it up at the dinner table, when tales of cockroaches and the eating of them should be strictly avoided. But we’re working on her timing.

I’ve been hooked on Fixer Upper ever since. Albeit my faithful viewing has nothing to do with cockroach appetizers. Not that I assume you’d be surprised by that.     

So what keeps me watching?

While I love Joanna’s designs and wish she could redecorate my house, that’s not why I really watch the show. Instead, I tune in because I’m inspired by Chip and Joanna’s interactions with each other. As the author of a book on teamwork in marriage, it’s encouraging to see a married couple work so well together. 

Maybe like Chip and Joanna, you and your spouse are a strong team too. Or, perhaps you struggle when it comes to unity. Whatever the case may be, Fixer Upper offers each of us a weekly reminder of three simple qualities all of our marriages need.

1.     We Need to Laugh Together

I have yet to watch an episode of Fixer Upper where Chip and Joanna don’t laugh together. Often, it’s the result of Chip’s goofier side. One that’s sometimes evidenced in impromptu dance sessions, the adornment of odd thrift store finds, or jokingly made comments about how handsome or charming he thinks he is.

 Proverbs 17:22 calls laughter “good medicine.” An article I read several years ago from Psychology Today states that “laughter establishes – or restores – a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people, who literally take pleasure in the company of each other.” The fact is, laughing together in marriage helps create and maintain a sense of unity. Fixer Upper models this for us consistently.

2.     We Need to Encourage Each Other’s Gifts

Chip and Joanna are the ideal on-screen example of a couple who encourages each other’s gifts. She affirms him in his realty and construction expertise, while he cheers her on as she designs and decorates. Neither one is threatened or jealous of the other’s unique talents. Rather, they encourage each other to embrace and pursue their individual giftings.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Paul instructs his readers to “encourage one another and build one another other up.” We can and should be doing this in our marriages. When we encourage our spouse’s gifts, it has the potential to make our union, as well as the impact we make together on those around us, stronger. Don’t believe me? Fixer Upper is a larger-than-life example of this.

3.     We Need to Praise One Another

Most of us won’t be starring with our spouse in an HGTV show anytime soon. So unlike Chip and Joanna – who publicly praise each other regularly – we can’t praise our spouse to millions of viewers. What we can do, though, is praise our spouse both privately and publicly. Our public may be in our extended families, at our church, or even on social media.

Why is praise important? It reminds our spouse that they are worthy of recognition and celebration. And don’t we all need to remember this from time to time?

While I’m confident Chip and Joanna Gaines are far from a perfect couple, their show Fixer Upper teaches us all that good marriages can and do exist. Laughter, encouragement, praise, and all.


Ashleigh Slater

The ebook version of Ashleigh’s book Team Us: Marriage Together is on sale for $3.99 from January 25 to February 14, 2016. Grab your copy HERE

Ashleigh Slater is the author of the book, Team Us: Marriage Together, and a regular contributor at HuffPost Weddings, For the Family, and Start Marriage Right. With twenty years of writing experience, she loves to unite the power of a good story with practical application to encourage couples. You can learn more about Ashleigh at

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